India, Portugal Sign Defence Pact

Upon his arrival in India on Saturday for a seven-day tour, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa made clear that his government would try hard to strengthen defence ties with the South Asian country.
PM Costa, accompanied by a huge business delegation, discussed various aspects of bilateral ties with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in New Delhi. According to sources close to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the visiting premier told Modi that “very good” political ties between the two countries are yet to be matched by the economic relations. He also requested the Indian PM to consider Portugal as a “platform to address markets in Europe, Latin America and Africa”, saying that Lisbon was ready to work together with New Delhi in an attempt to ensure economic prosperity.
Meanwhile, Costa expressed satisfaction over the current state of bilateral trade that stood at USD 692 million in 2015-16 financial year. He claimed that Portuguese investment in India stands at USD 36.4 million. At the same time, he urged India to increase the volume of trade with Portugal, stressing that his government would provide all sorts of facilities to the Indian investors.
The two leaders condemned terror and recognised importance of the UN’s central role in combating terrorism, with Costa saying that the international community should not support any terror entity, including ‘non-state actors’, on any grounds.
In the presence of the two premiers, senior Indian and Portuguese officials signed a total of six Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs), including one on bilateral defence co-operation. PMO sources said that the MoU on defence co-operation would help New Delhi and Lisbon in harnessing the respective strengths “in this field for mutual benefit”.
After attending the signing ceremony, Prime Minister Modi said: “It gives me immense pleasure to welcome PM Costa and his delegation to India. We are deeply honoured that he accepted our invitation to be the Chief Guest at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (marked on Sunday). In my extensive discussion with Portugal PM, we reviewed the full range of India-Portugal ties.”
Citing shared historical connection between the two countries, Prime Minister Modi said that India and Portugal have built a solid partnership on the basis of shared historical connection and global issues. He once again thanked Portugal for backing India’s NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) membership bid, insisting: “We are grateful to Portugal for their continued support for India’s membership in NSG.”
Before leaving for southern Indian city of Bengaluru on Saturday night, Prime Minister Costa presented PM Modi with star footballer Cristiano Ronaldo’s jersey. In Bengaluru, the Indian origin Portuguese premier was the chief guest at the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas. On January 10, he will attend a business summit in western Indian province of Gujarat. He will arrive in western Indian province of Goa on January 11 and spend two days at his ancestral place before leaving for Lisbon.

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